Darkest Side Quests In Games

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Darkest Side Quests In Games

  • Side quests in games can either be enjoyable distractions or tedious tasks, but they often offer hidden rewards for dedicated players.
  • Some quests in games are intentionally designed to leave a lasting impression of dread on gamers, with disturbing visuals or morally bleak choices.
  • The article highlights several examples of dark and disturbing side quests from games like Red Dead Redemption, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Baldur’s Gate 3.

Side quests bulk out a game’s playtime, adding content that can either be a rewarding distraction from the main experience, or a dull slog that revolves around tedious fetching. Sometimes it might be worth doing even the latter, given that some of gaming’s best rewards are often obscured behind tiny quests that go under the radar of casual players.

However, there are a handful of quests that leave a lasting impression of dread on gamers, cornering them with disturbing visuals or morally bleak choices that must be made. For some, the rewards might be too great to ignore such disturbing quests.

Flowers For A Lady

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Red Dead Redemption

Released 2010-05-18 Developer(s) Rockstar San Diego Genre(s) Open-World, Adventure Platform(s) PS3, Switch, PS4, Xbox 360

Flowers for a Lady, a Stranger Quest in the original Red Dead Redemption, begins as a sweet little distraction from Marston’s quest to end the Van Der Linde gang. Players are tasked with assisting Billy West with gathering a bouquet of flowers for his wife Annabel, who he claims ‘doesn’t get around as much as she used to’.

Billy tells the truth, in a certain way. Delivering the flowers to Billy’s house reveals Annabel’s decomposing corpse, and it is revealed that the poor man has either lost his sanity or is in complete denial about his dead wife. It’s a sad event, given that little can be done with him from this point, and serves as a haunting reminder that not everything in the game is as it seems.

The Perfect Crime

Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

Batman: Arkham Knight

Released 2015-06-23 Platform(s) PS4, PC, Xbox One Developer(s) Rocksteady Studios Genre(s) Action

What begins as an investigation of murder victims in Batman: Arkham Knight descends into a creepy investigation into the Circus of Strange and its former ringmaster, the monstrous Professor Pyg. Once six victims have been claimed by the serial killer, Batman is led to the Pretty Dolls Parlour, a fancy pink location that hides awful secrets.

Descending into the basement, Batman finds Pyg, who will force his ‘Dollotrons’ – humans who have been surgically altered, lobotomized and driven to insanity – to attack The Dark Knight, creating a crisis of justice as Batman is forced to beat up innocent victims of the deranged serial killer. Incarcerating the Dollotrons alongside their creator reveals the most tragic detail of all, as scanning any of the victims reveals a single state of mind: ‘terrified’, but void of their identity and feelings of pain.

Dribbles The Clown

Baldur’s Gate 3 (2023)

Baldur’s Gate 3

Released 2023-08-03 Developer(s) Larian Studios Platform(s) PS5, PC, macOS, Stadia Genre(s) RPG See at Playstation Store

Fetch quests tend to be tedious jobs with little engagement, meant to reward the teeniest amount of XP and bulk out the gameplay. It’s an even bigger nuisance when it’s a multi-layered fetch quest, but occasionally, as in the case of Larian Studio’s Baldur’s Gate 3, it is as creepy as it is engaging.

Dribbles The Clown tasks players with first revealing the doppelgänger that has replaced the clown, then finding the pieces of Dribbles that have been scattered throughout the land. It’s a sickening task laid out for the player and offers more than one surprise during its participation. Within Baldur’s Gate 3, it is certainly the darkest of the side quests available.

The Taste Of Death

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim (2011)

Skyrim

Released 2011-11-11 Developer(s) Bethesda Platform(s) Xbox Series S, PS3, Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox 360, PC, Xbox One X, Xbox One Genre(s) Action, RPG, Adventure

Skyrim is full of sickening quests, mostly the result of the Daedric Lords, immortal deities usually constrained to the depths of their private hells, but able to wield some level of influence in the mortal realm. Occasionally, these quests can be delightfully humorous, but in other cases, they are dark, morally sickening stories of depraved violence.

A Taste of Death is one such quest, tasking The Dragonborn with first investigating some disturbed grave bodies but evolving quickly into an invitation into a club of Namira-worshipping cannibals that seek to have a delightful meal. It’s a shame that one of the rewards available is excellent; a ring that means hunger will never be suffered by the player again, at the cost of eating a close ally from the quest. Truly disturbing.

Yuria Of Londor’s Quest

Dark Souls 3 (2016)

Dark Souls 3

Released 2016-03-24 Developer(s) From Software Platform(s) PS4, PC, Xbox One Genre(s) Action RPG

There’s an argument that Yuria of Londor’s questline, which is necessary to complete the Usurp the Flame ending in Dark Souls 3, is not a side quest at all, instead being a primary quest. However, Usurp the Flame’s mysterious set of instructions, as well as its obscure and specific list of requirements, makes it far from the default ‘true’ ending players choose. Its morally questionable acts further cement it as the second or lower choice for players seeking to complete Dark Souls 3.

It involves a marriage ceremony where the player forces a sword into their partner’s face, and the death of a beloved NPC in order for Yuria to arrive. It is not the story that makes this one of the darkest quests around, but the silence. Players have to consider each set of instructions with no guidance, and so whether it is truly worth it can only be answered from within. This sidequest will see betrayal and conquest, as players ascend as a Dark Lord of Hollows.

Jack: Subject Zero

Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Mass Effect 2

Released 2010-01-26 Developer(s) BioWare Platform(s) PS3, Xbox 360, PC Genre(s) Third-Person Shooter, Action RPG

First-time players of Mass Effect 2 may be confused about why Jack is such a beloved character. Foul-mouthed and confrontational, Jack regards Shepard and the others with suspicion, whilst relishing depraved and disturbing levels of violence. Digging deeper into her backstory, and eventually progressing through her loyalty mission, reveals enormous amounts of trauma and tragedy at the core of this potential crewmate and partner.

Jack: Subject Zero sends players to the research facility where Jack was raised, and experimented on by Cerberus. Disturbing relics of her torture, and tragic details that reveal all was not as she thought, create one of the darkest pieces of the Mass Effect franchise. The final blows come in the form of another traumatized survivor, who comes back seeking answers to the tragedy.

A Towerful Of Mice

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Released 2015-05-19 Developer(s) CD Projekt Red Platform(s) Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox One Genre(s) Action, RPG, Adventure

Part of Keira Metz’s questline, A Towerful of Mice sends Geralt to an isolated, haunted island so that he can participate in the lifting of a curse. Exploring the location reveals plenty of spooky specters that can threaten and surprise the player, but it is the story of the tower, and its tragic inhabitant, Annabelle.

Fleeing an arriving Nilfgaardian invasion force, Anabelle drank poison to kill herself when peasants arrived and stormed the tower. However, the potion wasn’t poison, but a paralysis potion, and in the dark, abandoned tower, Anabelle was eaten alive by rats. A gnarly fate, one of the worst on the continent, Geralt can explore this quest very early in the game, providing a fitting welcome into the darker side of The Witcher series, with fatal consequences to whoever Geralt may involve.

They Won’t Go When I Go

Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)

Cyberpunk 2077

Released 2020-12-10 Developer(s) CD Projekt Red Platform(s) Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PC, Stadia, Xbox One Genre(s) Action, RPG See at Amazon

The gruesome finale to an excruciatingly disturbing questline, They Won’t Go When I Go sees V aid Joshua Stephenson, and by extension, Fourth Wall studios, in creating a braindance of the former’s crucifixion. V, if players do not abstain from the mission, experience this dark consequence of media interest in serial killers firsthand.

V is forced to watch Joshua Stephenson’s live-streamed death, which acts as the culmination of his path to redemption. It’s one of the most morally complex pieces in Cyberpunk 2077, and it’s certainly the darkest available side quest in the game, and that’s saying something, considering players will have to investigate a child kidnapper, a father/son duo that edit XBDs, and far more grizzly tales that are deserving of their own mention, for Cyberpunk 2077 holds some disturbing secrets in Night City.

MORE: Most Disturbing Quests In The Witcher

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